Ban on Private Vehicles to Control Air Pollution

by November 1, 2018 0 comments

Air PollutionTo deal with the worsening air quality in the Capital, environmental authority is contemplating a ban on all private vehicles plying on the roads.

All the talk through the year by Governments, NGOs and the common or garden variety of citizens has come to naught. For, air pollution is not only back this year in the National Capital Region but back with a severity that many had hoped would not be as bad as that of previous years given the national and international opprobrium heaped upon Delhi. No such luck.

But even as the Capital faces a health emergency with air pollution at “severe” levels on Tuesday and advisories by the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) asking Delhiites, especially children and the elderly, to “stay home”, came a shocker from the chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), Bhure Lal, who said that a ban on the plying of all private vehicles is being contemplated if the air pollution levels worsen.

Surely, that is a solution as bad if not worse than the problem it has been mooted to tackle. Not only is this suggestion coming from a person holding a position of great authority and responsibility worrisome, if implemented it would lead to a complete shutdown and cause a loss to the economy of hundreds of crores of rupees each day. Studies have shown that Delhi depends heavily on private vehicles to commute and the public transport infrastructure is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of commuters. In fact, Delhi has more vehicles plying on its roads than Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru combined.

The alarmist comment from Bhure Lal, which comes at a time when there is an ongoing strike by Delhi Transport Corporation bus drivers and conductors which highlights the shortage of buses in the city that needs over 11,000 buses but has only about 5,400, is spectacularly ill-timed. Additionally, there is the up-and-down ridership on the Metro primarily due to exponentially rising fares, the lack of systematic monitoring of auto-rickshaws plying in Delhi which, especially for women commuters, throw up daily safety and security challenges, and the fact that cluster services managed by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System are in a shambles.

For anyone with a grip on reality to endorse a possible ban on private vehicles plying in the Capital against this backdrop would amount to advocating a virtual meltdown of the nation’s political, administrative and commercial centre. An unedifying admixture of urban chaos and commercial cataclysm will be visited upon the Capital if such a ban is implemented.

Having said that, however, there is a reason why such a suggestion is being aired and even has some takers. As the EPCA has informed the apex court, commercial vehicles are a major source of air pollution in Delhi with very high carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. There are about seven lakh vehicles registered each year in Delhi and no restrictions apply on the number of vehicles an individual may purchase.

Vehicular exhaust, especially when combined with a drop of wind speeds as we are currently experiencing, means that the contribution of such emissions to air pollution in Delhi could rise to about 30 per cent of the total (including secondary particles). Obviously, there are many who are sick of this situation and feel drastic measures are required to shock the system, even at great economic cost. This is a debate which is going to get more heated as pollution levels, as they are unfortunately certain to, rise over the next two months across North India.

Writer: Pioneer

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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